written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 4/30/2010
Locked phones are an unfortunate reality with certain service providers. Although there are usually unlocked versions available, they tend to be much more expensive. This article looks at the different ways to unlock a Nokia phone, and how to get an unlock code.
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It is a common practice with service providers in certain countries to lock mobile phones for limited use. While this may seem arbitrary, the idea is to keep their customers, and not to lose out to stiff competition.
Locking the phone merely means that the phone can only be used with a single service provider. The service provider provides a connection to the phone using a SIM card, but even if the SIM card is changed, the phone will still be unusable on any other network.
It can be handy to have an unlocked phone, especially for frequent travellers. Astronomical mobile bills can be averted if a local SIM is easily obtained rather than using a roaming connection.
There are a few options available for users to choose from; it depends on each individual’s circumstances.
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Getting the Unlock Code from the Provider
The first step to try is to ask the service provider in question to provide an unlocking code for the phone. It really depends on the service provider whether or not they oblige, but most importantly it is usually provided for free.
It is usually not illegal to unlock a phone, as per the service contract, unless specifically stated. It is best to clear that with the service provider before trying to unlock the phone at all. In some cases, the phone may be locked by the vendor, and that is potentially illegal to unlock. Again, the service provider will be the best source for clarification.
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Using an Unlock Software
There a number of freeware software applications for unlocking a Nokia phone. They usually come with a long list of instructions on how exactly to go about unlocking the phone. Most of the time, the procedure involves retrieving the IMEI number of the phone. The IMEI number is a hardware serial number, uniquely identifying the phone, and is crucial when trying to unlock the device.
There are two fields that the unlocking software requires, apart from the IMEI number: one is the locktype, which can be deduced from the same site and is based on the model of the phone; and the other is the provider, which is again easily found by referring to a provided list.
Once all the information has been entered, the software application generates a series of codes. The codes can then be entered onto the device, after the SIM card has been removed. CAUTION: Nokia phones allow only five tries before the phone becomes ‘hard-locked’.
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Getting Professional Help
Getting the phone unlocked by a professional is usually the last resort in most cases. The service is evidently not free, and should really be used if no other solution works. Professional help is also necessary if the phone becomes hard-locked, and therefore practically inaccessible.
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There are significant risks to unlocking phones, not the least of which are legal hassles. The phone can become completely unusable if the unlocking process damages internal applications. In the case of Nokia phones, five tries is the limit with unlocking software, after which a professional is the only hope. Additionally, a number of the newer models cannot be unlocked by these applications at all.